Every so often, especially during the Spring or late Summer, while running outside I will accidentally swallow a flying bug! This happens when the insect swarms around my head and I inhale it! Is there anything I can do to avoid this from happening and how harmful is it to swallow a bug? - Bug Biter
We members of the so called civilized world harbor disgust for the creepy crawling, flying or slithering creatures of our lush green planet. We fail to appreciate the benefits that insects provide as we live our enormous giant-like lives above them, stomping around aimlessly, crushing whole tribes of innocent pollen-sucking creatures as we run with unknown purpose.
You might not appreciate your good fortune if, while out on your daily run, you accidentally swallowed a mouthful of Japanese grasshoppers, but our friends from the East enjoy the dish "inago" (fried rice-field grasshoppers) as a welcome main course. Boiled or fried cicada is considered a fine delicacy in Japan as is "hachi-no-ko" (wasp larvae). Many restaurants in Tokyo offer such fine entrees as "zaza-mushi" (aquatic insect larvae) and "sangi" (fried silk moth pupae).
We all admire the athletic superiority of our West African neighbors, especially as distance runners, and it should not surprise you that their diet is both diverse and gushing with crunchy critters. Termites, crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars, palm weevil and compost beetle larvae comprise the list of insectile delicacies that a Nigerian athlete might consume.
The natives of the south Indonesian island of Bali have been known to munch on dragonflies and damselflies; grilled over a charcoal fire or boiled with ginger, garlic, shallots, chili pepper and coconut milk. In Thailand, an important part of their diet includes mealworms, grasshoppers, longicorn larvae, waterbugs and fried scorpions.
While the very thought of ingesting a bug might repulse you, it is important to understand the nutritional value of insects. The reason why the indigenous people of Japan, West Africa, Indonesia and Australia have traditionally included insects as a food source is due to the high protein content of the little critters.
Consider the amount of insects that are secretly a part of your diet today. The Department of Health and Human Services has set a standard of Food Defect Action Levels, which is a way of measuring the amount of insect contaminants in the food you are already eating. Chocolate has an action level of 80 microscopic insect fragments per 100 grams. That means that for every 83 gram standard milk chocolate bar, you swallow 66 pieces of insect matter! If you are one who enjoys creamy peanut butter, you should know that each 100 gram serving may contain 30 crunchy insect parts.
And why should the thought of eating insects be so alien to us? Consider our own arthopodic and invertebrate based diets, which include crab, lobster, shrimp and snails (escargot). Many of us have paid a good chunk of cash for a plateful of these insect-like creatures, leading one to ponder how a bowl of fried scorpions could be much worse?
Thus far, I've assembled some interesting factoids which will lead you to understand that in and of themselves, bugs are both a harmless and nutritious part of your daily diet. But if your goal is to limit your inhalation of the flying variety while out on a daily run, I'll leave you with this tip which has helped to limit my own insect-gagging experiences.
When I know that I'll be running in a buggy area, I wear a white T-shirt, as some insects are attracted to darker clothing. Next: I wear a lightweight runner's cap, one of those long-billed mesh hats which I soak to saturation with a N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET) flavored spray. Insects that catch a whiff of that stuff can't stay far enough away from you.
But the most effective way to keep flying creatures from dive bombing your oral orifice is to employ, what I like to call, the "tongue barrier breathing method". Simply put: as you run, press the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth (hard palate), and draw breath from the sides of your mouth. While, admittedly, this limits the quantity of atmosphere you can draw in a single inhalation, it also serves to limit the ability of a Kamikaze insect from its suicidal invasion into your body.
Run long and taper.